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Inhabitat's Week in Green: 'Eyeronman' vest, eco hobbit home and a labyrinth of plastic waste


Buildings account for nearly 40 percent of emissions in the US, so greening our architecture will go a long way toward curbing climate change. In Singapore, a developer built the world's largest vertical garden on the exterior of a building, setting a new Guinness World Record for the nearly 25,000-square-foot green wall. On the green energy front, Germany is blazing a trail by smashing three solar energy records in just two weeks. We also featured the world's first integrated solar system, which generates both heat and electricity. The system was installed on a house in suburban Sydney. The new technology could be a game changer for the solar energy industry. That sounds like a big deal, but this could be even bigger: Researchers appear to be on the brink of developing paint-on solar cells that could make renewable energy cheap and widely accessible.

In green transportation news, a transit agency in Budapest decked out its trams with 30,000 bright LED lights, making them look like futuristic time-traveling vehicles, and we took Lincoln's new MKC out for a test drive. One of the most useful and impressive new pieces of wearable technology is the vibrating "Eyeronman" vest, which can help visually impaired people avoid obstacles. The innovative vest uses a set of sensing and vibrating clothes that can "see" what's around the wearer and alert them to objects' locations through vibrations. And rumors are swirling that Apple may launch an iWatch as soon as the fourth quarter of 2014 that will feature a curved OLED display and a heart-monitoring system.

A Dutch company has developed a 3D printer 10 times the size of ordinary one -- and it's using it to create the world's first 3D-printed building. The team will use an on-site printer and bioplastics to fabricate a full-size house next to a canal in Amsterdam. In other news, industrial designer Konstantin Grcic has created a mobile prefab pavilion built from seven Audi TT tailgate doors for this year's Design Miami/Basel fair. Resiliency is the key to creating sustainable cities -- and this week, investigators showed how New Jersey's devastating boardwalk fire could have actually started when an influx of sea water from Hurricane Sandy hit insecure electrical and mechanical systems. And we joined the call to save this incredible brand-new hobbit home in Wales, which is being threatened with destruction by the Pembrokeshire City Council. The reason? "The benefits of a low-impact development do not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside."

In global developments, authorities in Fukushima are still trying to contain radioactive water from flowing from the site of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. TEPCO, the plant's operator, recently announced that it will build a giant underground ice wall to block the flow of water from the site -- but they have yet to achieve success. And new reports reveal that China is building a network of artificial islands in a disputed part of the South China Sea to bolster its territorial claims.

In other green innovation news, a British inventor has created a percussion shaker that converts kinetic energy into electricity. A team of Dutch designers is developing what it's described as the world's smallest electric vehicle. The Trikelet is a folding, three-wheeled electric scooter that can hit top speeds of 12MPH, and it folds up to the size of a carry-on suitcase. And if you've ever dreamed of riding a Back to the Future-style hoverboard, the Flyboard is for you. Sure, you can only use it on water, and yes, it's attached to a big hose, but it's a hoverboard nonetheless. The anonymous art collective Luzinterruptus created a labyrinth of plastic waste from 6,000 recycled plastic bottles illuminated with LED lights. Plastic pollution is an enormous challenge for the world's oceans, and to deal with the problem, 19-year-old Boyan Slat is seeking donations for his Ocean Cleanup Array.

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